Rams vs. Packers: 5 Lessons Learned for Green Bay
The undefeated Green Bay Packers beat the St. Louis Rams 24-3 at Lambeau Field on their way to an NFL-best 6-0 record. Scoring three second-quarter touchdowns, the Packers took a 24-3 lead into halftime and maintained enough of a defensive presence in the scoreless second half to win.
It wasn't pretty outside of the second quarter, but the Packers did enough against a struggling opponent to get another solid win. The Packers entered the game as heavy favorites in a matchup of the league's best against the league's worst.
The Packers take their perfect record on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings next week before getting their bye week after that. With a win against the sputtering Vikings, the Packers would go into their bye 7-0 facing a tough road game against the San Diego Chargers.
While any win in the NFL is celebrated, there were both positive and negative takeaways from the game.
Aaron Rodgers Is Better Right Now Than Tom Brady
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Aaron Rodgers continued his excellent run of play against the Rams, propelling the Packers to victory. Going over the 300-yard mark for the fifth time this season, Rodgers completed 17 of his 28 passing attempts for 310 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on a tipped pass. Always a threat on the ground, the star quarterback ran for 15 yards.
Purely based on stats, Rodgers appears to be the best player in the league, including Tom Brady, with a passer rating topping 120 for the season while throwing for 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Through six games, the only category where Brady has been better is total passing yardage. Rodgers has thrown for 2,031 yards, while Brady has thrown for 2,163.
Even if you take stats out of the equation, Rodgers' general level of play has been better than Brady as he has made plays no other quarterback is capable of making. The ability to elude sacks and make throws on the run makes Rodgers even more of a threat to an opposing defense.
Mason Crosby Is Finally Living Up to Potential
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For much of Mason Crosby's career, it felt as if he wasn't living up to his potential as big-leg kicker with great accuracy. The leg wasn't ever really in question as Crosby held the record for the longest field goal in Packers history.
As a free agent last offseason, Crosby's status coming into this season was a little murky as it was unclear whether or not he would be brought back. The Packers made sure they got him back by paying the big bucks to ensure his return.
This season, Crosby has been perfect, hitting all 10 of his field goal attempts and connecting on 23 extra points. He has also done a great job on kickoffs crushing balls deep into the end zone, forcing touchback after touchback.
As the season progresses, Crosby's improvements have made the Packers even more dangerous with the reliable kicking game. With how careful Rodgers is with the ball, if the Packers can get on the other side of the opponents' 40-yard line, points are all but guaranteed.
Defense Relies on Bend, Don't Break
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If you were to just look at the yardage numbers the Packers defense has allowed, you wouldn't believe that they were a 6-0 team. While the NFL as a whole is seeing a breakout of offenses, the Packers defense has ranked towards the bottom in total yards allowed.
So far, the defense has relied heavily on a "bend, don't break" philosophy, giving up tons of yardage while stiffening up at the end of drives. The victory against the Rams is a perfect model of the current situation as the Packers gave up 424 yards but only allowed the Rams to score three points.
The Packers are relying on creating timely turnovers and getting big stops. While this has worked so far this season, it would nice to see the Packers become that dominant defense of last year that gave up very few yards and very few points.
It is probably nitpicking, but it feels as if the potential is there. This team has a very limited number of flaws, but they are flaws that could likely be corrected. If this is the case, it would make the Packers an even more unstoppable team.
The Packers Lack Killer Mentality
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Right now, the biggest flaw of the Packers has been the lack of a killer mentality. Throughout the early season, the Packers have failed to really put together a full 60-minute performance. They have had some great halves of football, but haven't put together a full game.
There has been a pattern developing with the Packers letting opponents hang around in games and compete late. Outside of the Broncos game, the Packers have struggled to go for the jugular and end things early.
After scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter, the Packers struggled to move the ball and failed to put any additional points on the board. At times, it felt like the Packers were sleep walking and just waiting for the time to run out.
Against a better opponent, this could come back to bite the Packers. It may not happen against a better team, but it isn't worth the risk of finding out. When the Packers have their foot on the gas, no team in the league can keep up.
Only the Packers Can Beat the Packers
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Right now, the Packers are clearly head and shoulders above the other teams in the NFL. There are some teams that have done well to get wins, but there is no team the Packers should fear outside of themselves.
With the talent the Packers have and the way Aaron Rodgers is playing football, the only way the Packers lose is if they beat themselves. At this point it would take penalties and stupid turnovers for the Packers to go down.
The pressure for a letdown is always there and could happen against any team. A loss wouldn't be the end of the world for this team, but they are the best in the business and can outplay any team in the league on any field.
It is frightening at times how bright the future currently is for the Packers. This team could go down as one of the best in NFL history if it can tighten up some of the loose ends as it continues its march toward the postseason.